There is nothing quite like a weekend without plans. It is the perfect opportunity to catch up on the things you keep meaning to get to, but can never find the time to do - and I mean catching up on fun things, not just bills and laundry. Stuff like reading that book that's been collecting dust on your nightstand, or listening to your favorite podcasts. Let's not forget a big one - sleep!
These weekends are rare, but when they surface, I am so grateful. Despite the fact that I consider myself a better cook than baker (I identify more with the a-little-bit-of-this-a-little-bit-of-that, taste-as-you-go approach of cooking than I do with the exact-perfectionism of baking), I always end up baking on these weekends. Maybe it's because there is no pressure to get something on the table in time for dinner, or photographed by a deadline - just a lazy day of puttering around the kitchen, listening to old records or the radio. That, or the fact that it makes the house smell so darn good. Perhaps it's a combination of the two.
I made this pound cake last weekend, which is really a quick bread, so it's not nearly as involved as some weekend baking projects (in other words, you can fit it in between the dreaded bills and laundry). It works well for this transitional time of year, with my friends back home heading into spring and us folks down under slowly seeping into autumn. It can be served for breakfast with fresh berries and yogurt, or for dessert with a scoop of ice cream. Use a quality French Earl Grey, which will be highlighted by the vanilla bean and sweet lemon glaze.
Earl Grey Pound Cake
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, peeled
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon good quality Earl Grey tea
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl add butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until butter and sugar are very smooth, 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla bean and milk; beat to combine.
In another mixing bowl, add flour, almond meal, baking powder, tea, and salt; stir to combine. In three batches using a wooden spoon, add dry ingredients to wet, stirring each time until incorporated.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer batter to a prepared loaf pan. Bake until top is golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Brush over cooled cake. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Makes 1 loaf